Government approach to NHS recovery is clearly failing as health service is under unprecedented pressure, warns BMA

by BMA media team

BMA press release. 

Last reviewed: 14 April 2022
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Responding the latest NHS England Performance1 statistics which reveal record A&E waits and the largest ever number of people waiting for treatment, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said:

“These latest NHS performance statistics highlight the enormous pressure that the health service is still having to endure as this Easter looks set to be just as bad as some of the worst winters we have ever seen.

“With Covid-19 cases hitting the highest level on record last week in England2 and resulting hospitalisations placing further demand on services and with almost 200,000 NHS staff absent due to Covid-19 in just one week3, these levels of pressure are unprecedented.

“The Government said it would prioritise the recovery of the NHS in its Elective Recovery Plan4 in February and that it would eliminate 2 year waits for surgery by this July – yet there are still over 23,000 people waiting over 24 months5 for treatment. Furthermore, the target that no one will wait more than 18 months by April 2023 seems equally unrealistic given that there are more than 6 million people currently waiting, record high A&E waits, and Covid-19 infections directly impacting on normal NHS services. 

“The Government must be honest about the scale of the challenge and realise that unless it puts in place measures to bring down soaring Covid infection rates we will continue to see high levels of staff absences increasing the pressure on the NHS and jeopardising any hope of recovery in the foreseeable future. 

“There is no confidence among the medical profession in the Government’s ability to tackle the backlog. It is deeply concerning that, in a BMA survey6 published this week, only 1% of doctors had confidence in the Government’s plan to reduce the waiting lists for elective care, investigations, and procedures.

Let’s not forget that the NHS Constitution has an 18-week waiting time standard. The millions of people now languishing on waiting lists which stretch to over two years shows the Government’s current approach is clearly failing them.”

Notes to editors

The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

  1. NHS England Performance Stats.
  2. Office for national statistics: COVID infection rates in England.
  3. NHSE Situation reports.
  4. Government’s Elective Care Recovery Plan.
  5. NHS England Performance Stats.
  6.  A total of 1,194 doctors took part in the survey which was open between 6th and 8th April 2022. When asked: Thinking about your place of work/training, to what extent do you think Government aims to tackle the backlog of waiting lists for elective care, investigations, and procedures (including diagnostics) is achievable with the existing healthcare workforce?
  • Achievable 1% (11 responses)
    Mostly achievable 4.3% (47 responses)
    Mostly unachievable 35.5% (389 responses)
    Totally unachievable 51.7% (567 responses)
    Don’t know 5.20% (57 responses)
    Not relevant 2.4% (26 responses
    )